Former executive director of diagnostic testing center admits Bribing doctors in cash-For-Patients scheme
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. – The former executive director of Orange Community MRI LLC, today admitted paying bribes to doctors since April 2008 and agreed to forfeit $89,000 in proceeds from the crime, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Chirag Patel, 37, of Warren, N.J., pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with one count of soliciting and receiving illegal cash kickbacks for patient referrals in violation of the federal health care anti-kickback statute.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Dec. 8, 2011, Patel was arrested and charged with offering and paying cash kickbacks to a New Jersey health care practitioner in exchange for referrals to Orange Community MRI. On Dec. 13, 2011, 13 New Jersey doctors and one nurse practitioner were arrested and charged in separate Complaints with accepting similar cash kickback payments from Orange MRI. Each of the defendants was recorded taking envelopes of cash in exchange for patient referrals.
Patel is the ninth person charged in the December 2011 takedown to plead guilty. Patel is the second member of Orange Community MRI to plead guilty; Ashokkumar Babaria, the former owner and medical director of Orange Community MRI, pleaded guilty on Sept. 27, 2012.
As part of his plea agreement, Patel agreed to forfeit $89,180 that constitutes criminal proceeds of the crime. As part of his guilty plea, Ashokkumar Babaria agreed to forfeit his revenues traceable to corrupt referrals, which the government has estimated could reach as much as $2 million. The seven health care providers that referred patients to Orange MRI who have plead guilty thus far have collectively agreed to forfeit over $150,000 in illegal kickbacks from Orange MRI.
With respect to the other defendants charged in the investigation:
• Jose Castaneda, a nurse practitioner formerly practicing in Newark, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on April 3, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 14, 2012.
• Yash Khanna, M.D., a doctor practicing in East Orange, was indicted on May 4, 2012, by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks; Judge Cecchi has set the trial date for Dec. 3, 2012.
• Dov Rand, M.D., a doctor practicing in West Orange, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on May 18, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 24, 2012.
• Daisy Deguzman, M.D., a doctor practicing in Newark, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on June 4, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25, 2012.
• William Lagrada, M.D., another Newark doctor, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on July 11, 2012, and is awaiting sentencing.
• Maryam Jafari, M.D., another Newark doctor, was indicted on July 13, 2012, by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks. On Sept. 14, 2012, the same grand jury handed up a superseding indictment against Dr. Jafari, charging her with one count of conspiracy and two counts of accepting kickbacks. Judge Cecchi has set the trial date for Oct. 22, 2012.
• Chikezie Onyenso, M.D., an Irvington doctor, was indicted on Sept. 7, 2012, by a federal grand jury on one count of accepting kickbacks; Judge Cecchi has set a trial date for Nov. 16, 2012.
• Dinesh Patel, M.D., another Newark doctor, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on Sept. 19, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 9, 2013.
• Ashokkumar Babaria, M.D., a Moorestown, N.J., radiologist and Orange MRI’s former medical director and owner-in-fact, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on Sept. 27, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30, 2013.
• Lucio Cardoso, M.D., a North Arlington physician, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on Oct. 10, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30, 2013.
• Ramesh Kania, M.D., an East Orange physician, pleaded guilty before Judge Cecchi on Oct. 12, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 31, 2013.
The remaining defendants charged in the investigation are charged in criminal complaints at this time.
Patel faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison a fine of $250,000. Judge Cecchi continued Patel on bail pending sentencing. Following the guilty plea, U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi set sentencing for Feb. 6, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tom O’Donnell, as well as criminal investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Mack and Scott B. McBride of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Healthcare and Government Fraud Unit.
Defense counsel: Edward Dauber and Michael Freeman Esqs., Newark